Jim Gregory (ice hockey)
as a trainer of the St. Michaels Majors, 1961
November 4, 1935 |
Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada
|Alma mater||St. Michael's College School|
|Occupation||Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, NHL|
|Known for||National Hockey League executive|
|Awards||Hockey Hall of Fame (2007)|
James M. Gregory (born November 4, 1935) is a league executive and former general manager in the National Hockey League. Born in Ontario, Gregory attended St. Michael's College School in Toronto where he became involved with the school's ice hockey teams, first as a trainer, eventually moving to management and coaching positions. He went on to coach and manage the Toronto Marlboros, winning two championships. Later finding a employment with the National Hockey League's (NHL) Toronto Maple Leafs as their general manager. He led the team to eight playoff appearances in the 10 years he held the position. After his dismissal, he moved to the NHL head offices becoming the Director of Central Scouting, and later a directorship position in the Hockey Operations department, which he currently retains.
Early life and coaching career
Gregory was born in 1935 in Port Colborne, Ontario, and raised in the nearby town of Dunnville, Ontario. His father was born in England and was a Royal Canadian Air Force World War II veteran. Growing up in Dunnville, he developed a passion for hockey, in particular, the Toronto Maple Leafs, listening to Foster Hewitt's broadcasts on Hockey Night in Canada, and developing a relationship with his favourite player, Ted Kennedy. He learned the game from playing road hockey, and later on his local midget hockey team.
In 1952, he relocated to Toronto and attended St. Michael's College School, where he had intentions of playing ice hockey. After unsuccessfully trying out for the school's Junior B hockey team, he joined the Junior A team as a stats keeper and trainer at the insistence of teacher Father David Bauer. By 1961, he took on a management position with the team, winning the Memorial Cup in that same year. The following hockey season however, the Majors hockey team withdrew from their league, and Gregory relocated to another high school team, the Toronto Neil McNeil Maroons, winning a championship. When Maroons were merged into the Toronto Marlboros in 1964, the organization retained Gregory. He coached the club to a Memorial Cup victory that year. Later assuming the management duties as well, the Marlies won another Memorial Cup in 1967 under his direction. In 1959, while working for Colgate-Palmolive, he gained employment with the Toronto Maple Leafs after an interview with owner Stafford Smythe, which was set up with the assistance of his former school coach, teacher and mentor at St. Micheal's, David Bauer. His duties included maintaining his responsibilities with the Marlies, a Maple Leafs-sponsored team, along with scouting, and working at Smythe's summertime aggregate business.
Gregory was hired by the Vancouver Canucks (an affiliate of the Maple Leafs) of the Western Hockey League to be their head coach in 1967. He remained there for only one season, compiling 26–41–5 record, for 5th place in the league. The following year, he assumed a scouting position with the Maple Leafs. In spring of 1969, when Punch Imlach was fired as general manager, Gregory was named as his replacement.
In 10 years as general manager, the Maple Leafs made eight playoff appearances. They also introduced many future stars including Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Tiger Williams, Ian Turnbull, and Mike Palmateer, during a time which many players defected to the rival league, World Hockey Association. He was one of the first managers to turn to Europe as a source of NHL talent, recruiting defenseman Borje Salming and winger Inge Hammarstrom, in 1973, to play for the Leafs. Gregory was also responsible for introducing a scouting system within the organization, hiring five full time scouts. However, after the Maple Leafs suffered an elimination in the quarterfinal round of the 1979 Stanly Cup playoffs, Gregory was fired by owner Harold Ballard, and replaced with his predecessor, Punch Imlach. Gregory learned of the news when he received a call from an NHL executive offering him the directorship of the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, unaware that Ballard had fired him.
Recognized for his knowledge of potential European talent for the NHL, Gregory was offered and accepted the position of Director of the NHL Central Scouting Service in 1979, replacing Jack Button. Gregory remained until 1986, when he was named Executive Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL. In 1998, he was named chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee, a position he currently holds, including the Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations of the NHL. Considered to be a vital part of the NHL's Hockey Operations and Officiating Department, he is known for introducing goal reviews.
In 2007, Gregory was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder, during which he was on a hiatus from the selection committee due to his health. He was awarded the Order of St. Michael from his alma mater, St. Michael's College School, in 2012. In that same year, the annual Player of the Game awards in the Canadian Hockey League's top prospects games were named after him in recognition for his support of the league. He is married to Rosalie and has four children, Andrea, Valerie, Maureen and David.
On February 27, 2009, Gregory was hospitalized at St. Michael's Hospital in critical condition after suffering a heart attack at the NHL office in Toronto, which he later recovered from. In 2011, he was treated for amyloidosis, a blood disorder.
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- nurun.com (2008-07-22). "Hockey and Haliburton - heaven on earth | Haliburton Echo". Haliburtonecho.ca. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
- NHL Exec Jim Gregory Has a Heart Attack Yahoo Sports, March 2, 2009
- "Ex-Leafs GM Gregory fights off blood disorder | Toronto Star". Thestar.com. 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
|General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs